Web 2.0 in the Workplace Increases Efficiency, but Distractions, Leaks a Concern, Say Europeans

Twenty-four percent of employees admit they are not sure how the return on investment of internal sites could ever be measured.

by / November 12, 2008

The use of social networking tools as part of everyday working life has led to an increase in efficiency, according to an independent market report released by AT&T. The pan-European survey of more than 2,500 people in five countries, conducted by Dynamic Markets, shows that of those employees using social networking tools in the workplace, 65 percent say that it has made them and/or their colleagues more efficient. In addition, 46 percent say that it has sparked ideas and creativity for them personally.

The top five social networking tools being used by organizations across Europe are:

  1. Companies' own collaboration sites on intranets (39 percent)
  2. Internal forums within the company (20 percent)
  3. Company-produced video material shared on intranets (16 percent)
  4. Online social networks, like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. (15 percent)
  5. External collaboration sites on the Web and internal blogging sites (both 11 percent)

The study shows that 65 percent of employees surveyed in Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands say their company has adopted social networking as part of their working culture. The research also reveals that the rate of adoption is most popular in Germany, leading the way at 72 percent while Great Britain lags behind with 59 percent.

The independent market research was commissioned by AT&T in order to gain a greater understanding of how organizations are currently using social networking technologies. The company has published a white paper titled The Business Impacts of Social Networking, which outlines the challenges organizations face when taking advantage of new technologies that will benefit their organizations.

When asked, 74 percent of European employees think there are benefits to using social networks and online communities in the workplace. Increasing an individual's knowledge and giving access to solutions to problems (both 38 percent) were the two main benefits highlighted. Harnessing the collective knowledge of employees, customers and suppliers (36 percent) and stimulating team building and better internal collaboration (32 percent) were also mentioned by those employees who have first-hand experience of using social networks at work on a daily basis.

In contrast, the research also highlights a number of challenges, with the two main negatives being that social networks are a distraction to employees (49 percent) and a source of company leaks of confidential information (45 percent). In addition, 24 percent of employees admit they are not sure how the return on investment (ROI) of internal sites could ever be measured.

"The change is sociological rather than technological, thus is will be difficult to justify with traditional ROI models," said Martin Silman, executive director at AT&T. "Social networking is changing the way corporations communicate and if the corporate vision incorporates and builds upon the move to social networking and Web 2.0, then the key performance indicators will easily follow.

"The research shows that there is a clear trend across Europe for business users to embrace the benefits of 'Web 2.0' technology to underpin collaboration, improve productivity and embrace business efficiency. It is clear that CIOs and their colleagues need to think about the implications this has for their own internal networking strategy and ensure that they are equipped to make the most of the opportunities created by social networking."

Research Methodology

The independent market research report is produced by Dynamic Markets Limited and details quantitative research with employees who use a computer at work in Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. A sample of 2510 interviews was collected with adult employees, aged 18+. Each country's sample includes a minimum of 500 respondents per country from small and medium enterprise (249 employees or fewer) to large organisations (250 or more employees). The interviews were conducted using GMI's global online research consumer panel between 17th September and 7th October 2008. Dynamic Markets is a UK-based research consultancy in its 9th year of trading. It serves blue-chip B2B and B2C clients across a wide variety of industry sectors. It strictly adheres to the UK Market Research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct.